One of the top fighters of his generation has retired from mixed martial arts.
Jose Aldo has opted to call it a career following a recent loss to Merab Dvalishvili and leaves the UFC with one fight remaining on his deal.
Combate was the first to report the news of Aldo’s plan to retire with MMA Fighting confirming his exit from the UFC. The departure doesn’t mean it will be the end of Aldo’s combat sports career as he could pursue boxing or other combat sports.
Aldo made his debut at the age of seventeen in August 2004 and made a statement instantly with an eighteen-second head kick knockout to kick off his career.
He won the first seven fights of his career in Brazil and England before losing to Luciano Azevedo at Jungle Fight 5 in November 2005 where he moved up to lightweight and was submitted in the third round. Aldo wouldn’t lose another fight over the next decade.
His WEC debut occurred in June 2008 on one of the promotion’s biggest cards ever, which was headlined by Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver for the featherweight title.
Aldo scored stoppage victories against Alexandre Franca Nogueira, Jonathan Brookins, Rolando Perez, and Chris Mickle before fighting Cub Swanson to determine the next challenger for the 145-pound title. Aldo made it an easier choice by landing a flying knee and stopping Swanson in eight seconds.
It set the stage for Aldo’s championship fight against then-champion Mike Thomas Brown t WEC 44 in November 2009 where Aldo won by second-round TKO.
Aldo’s next fight was the biggest card in the promotion’s history as WEC 48 aired on pay-per-view in April 2010 and pitted the two top featherweights in the promotion’s history – champion Jose Aldo and poster boy Urijah Faber.
It was a demonstration of the impact leg kicks could have in a fight as Aldo tore up Faber’s leg throughout the five-round contest before the decision was rendered and Aldo retained the title. The bigger story was the success WEC had on pay-per-view doing in excess of 150,000 buys and jettisoning the promotion being folded into the UFC, which had purchased the company three years prior.
Aldo fought one more time in WEC before being absorbed by the UFC and thus, becoming the first UFC featherweight champion.
He defended his championship at UFC 129 in Toronto in front of 55,000 fans defeating Mark Hominick after five rounds. The fight is remembered for a massive hematoma that formed on Hominick’s forehead and gutted his way to the end and came on strong in the final two rounds. Aldo had a rough weight cut that weekend which was a signal of the difficulties he had getting down to featherweight with the thought that he would eventually move up to lightweight.
Aldo made successful title defenses against Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes twice, Frankie Edgar, Chan Sung Jung, and Ricardo Lamas before squaring off with his biggest drawing rival, Conor McGregor.
The two were set to meet at UFC 189 in July 2015 when Aldo sustained a rib injury and withdrew from the fight twelve days before. It set the event into chaos after the two conducted a press tour for the fight and it was Chad Mendes that stepped in to fight McGregor on short notice. McGregor prevailed and was named the interim champion, setting up a unification at the end of the year with Aldo.
UFC 194 will go down as the biggest fight in featherweight history as Aldo and McGregor pulled in more than one million buys and a $10 million gate at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It was a stunning outcome as Aldo charged at McGregor and was met with a left hook that put Aldo out in thirteen seconds and one of the most stunning ends to a championship fight in MMA history.
While Aldo pushed for a rematch, the two never met again nor would Aldo be part of a fight as big as UFC 194. However, it was not a loss that defined Aldo’s career as he rebounded with a win against former champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 and led to back-to-back fights with then-champion Max Holloway, who stopped Aldo twice and was considered the passing of the torch from the dominant featherweight of one generation to the next (McGregor never fought at featherweight after the win against Aldo).
After a loss to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 237 in 2019, Aldo opted to change weight classes. But instead of moving up, he went down to bantamweight. At the time, it was thought nearly impossible given Aldo’s known struggles to make featherweight.
Aldo had six fights at bantamweight going 3-3 but never missed weight. He put together a string of wins against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font before the loss to Dvalishvili at UFC 278 in August. If Aldo had won, it likely would have gotten him close to a title fight, if not the next shot.
After just turning 36, Aldo could find an outlet in another sport and would serve as the latest reincarnation of a fighter who has changed with the times and adapted throughout his eighteen years as a fighter. He will assuredly be named to the UFC’s Hall of Fame and leaves the promotion among the greatest fighters of all time.